WASHINGTON — CNN anchor Jake Tapper said the relationship between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is deteriorating and the respect the two leaders have for each other knows bounds.
“I spent the first four years of Obama as the White House correspondent for ABC News and it was just fascinating to watch the relationship deteriorate from the very beginning when — I’m sure I’m going to mess up the chronology here — but there was a Biden trip to Israel and he landed and immediately new settlements were announced. There was Netanyahu not being permitted to come through the front door one time, an honor usually reserved for the Dalai Lama,” Tapper said during a discussion at the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington titled “Foreign Policy Hotspots.”
“And what was interpreted by President Obama as Netanyahu lecturing Obama in the Oval Office. And I think it’s fair to say that the respect Netanyahu and Obama have for each other knows bounds, but beyond that it has affected the relationship. Yes, the defense cooperation, the intelligence cooperation and that continues. There is this undergirding of the two countries being allied but the idea that it’s irrelevant, which is something that you hear sometimes from Obama’s supporters, that it doesn’t really matter that these two don’t get along, of course it matters that these two don’t get along. I think it had very bad consequences, especially for Israel,” CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Tapper also said.
White House Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal Carol E. Lee said the general thinking is the Israeli election will set the tone for Israel-U.S. relations for the next two years.
“Privately, their [the White House] thinking is they don’t believe he [Netanyahu] was ever really for a two-state solution,” said Lee.
Like Tapper, Lee described Netanyahu’s relationship with Obama as “significantly” deteriorating.
She said there are questions about whether or not the White House would restart the peace process with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Face the Nation‘s Bob Schieffer asked the panel about the P5+1 negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
David Sanger, national security correspondent at the New York Times, said Secretary of State John Kerry has put himself in the position of the day-to-day negotiator rather than coming in as a closer.
“That’s a tough spot because this is not the kind of negotiation where the president himself can come in and be the closer,” he said.
Sanger said anything Kerry comes back with for a final deal is going to be under immediate attack by Republicans and some Democrats.
Tapper said there are many Democrats in Congress who have serious concerns about the deal, including the original framework that was established.
He said Democrats are particularly worried about the idea that “the deal cooks in that Iran, as opposed to in UN resolutions, gets to enrich uranium and gets to manufacture plutonium.”
“The idea that the administration was pushing for a deal that was in the view of many Democrats weaker than what the UN had put forward made a lot of them very nervous,” he said.
Tapper, host of The Lead, also said the relationship between the White House and Congress is worse than it’s ever been, including the days when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was not taking the president’s phone calls.
“It’s stunning,” he said.